Congress Keeps Sale of Marijuana Illegal in Washington DC Via Appropriation Bill Rider

According to an article published last Friday by The Hill, the sale of marijuana will remain illegal in Washington, D.C. after a Republican-sponsored provision made its way onto a federal funding bill. Karl Evers-Hillstrom and Aris Folley reported that the legislation trumps the will of a solid majority of D.C. voters who passed a bill legalizing marijuana years ago.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) reportedly championed the provision, deemed the Harris Rider, which received Senate approval last Thursday after passing the House as a component of a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package funding the government through fiscal year 2022. Democratic legislators pushed back on the rider’s inclusion, but were said to have been met with fierce opposition.

Speaking about the bill, Harris, also the top Republican on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, remarked, “It’s a shame for the citizens of D.C. I mean, there’s more and more evidence that recreational marijuana is not a good idea.”

According to The Hill, Harris has reportedly been fighting for the rider since 2014, the same year that District residents authorized marijuana for adult use. Since then, Congress has “blocked the district from adhering to the will of the voters in each annual spending package,” the article said.

The news outlet clarified that residents are permitted to grow and use their own cannabis, but may not buy or sell it. Reportedly, businesses in the industry make use of a loophole permitting them to “gift” marijuana to customers by bundling it with another good or service. The Hill commented that this work-around effectively creates a “gray market” that can neither be taxed nor regulated.